top of page
About the history, experience and philosophy of our founder
ROI Cycles was created by Julien Meissonnier. It is a boutique bicycle company with a fresh product range and approach rooted in 40 years of bicycle passion, practice, and deep technology understanding.
My first serious bike was a pink Mercier "Service Course" bought in 1976 at age 13 with the best French equipment of the time (Stronglight, Simplex, Maillard, Mafac...). I rode it for a few years of increasing distances and abilities, capped by a 4200Km cyclocamping exploring the legendary routes of the Tour de France on tubulars and 38x30 as shortest gear for my16th birthday...
Once I outgrew it, the Mercier was replaced in 1981, by a "Tailor Made" French classic Follis Randonneur inspired by the dying breed of the classic French constructeur bikes... My budget was a bit shy of Rene Herse and Alex Singer, so I settled for Follis for a custom-made Vitus 971 frame, with camping racks. I assembled it myself with the best touring equipment the French cycling industry still offered. Specialite T.A., Huret Jubilee, Ideale saddle... I built my first wheelset with MaxiCar hubs and the new Mavic Module E2 clincher rims. The Follis saw many long brevets, camping trips across Europe from Communist Bulgaria to France, over 500 mountain passes hunted all across Europe, 24-hour solo rides... I still ride it today, updated with a modern drivetrain.
In 1984, as I was moving for an exchange year in the US as a Materials Engineering student, I cut and brazed a cheap 10-speed frame to convert it to 650B cyclocamping, brazed pannier carriers inspired by a famous Rene Herse design. I used it as a 100Kg rig (15Kg for the bike, 25Kg for the gear, and all 60Kg of me) to cross the USA from Florida to California in a 100-days, 8500Km ride, on a $1,000 budget ($10/day) in full autonomy. I also used that heavy touring bike to race in my first triathlon in Florida. I still ride this camping bike with its MaxiCar hubs, 40 spoke 650B wheels mostly to run errands. I call it the SUV and it will probably outlast me...
As I moved back to France in 1986, I got serious about racing triathlons, I bought a used Vitus Carbone 3 with full Mavic SSC group at the end of the season from a local Pro team, fitted it with the recently launched Look clipless pedals and Scott Aero bars (3 years before Greg Lemond used them in the Tour de France). I reached a top 30 national ranking, was vice-champion of France of clubs in Half-Ironman distance in 1986 with the TriathLyon team.
I soon rode less seriously but still sampled the evolving bike technology, mostly by buying high-end bikes far beyond their prime and after the hype had passed. 6/4 titanium bikes with a 1998 Litespeed Vortex road bike with Full Campagnolo Record 9 speed and early Zipp 303 tubular wheels and a 1998 Litespeed Tellico Hardtail MTB with Full Shimano XTR (later modified into a 9Kg gravel bike with drop bars). A 2012 Wilier Cento Uno with 2015 Campagnolo Record.
In 2011, I started a side hobby trading classic French parts mostly from the 60's, 70's and 80's. Built a few custom projects.
In 2018, Istarted building custom wheels commercially, mostly carbon but some aluminum too. Became an official importer for Taiwanese hub manufacture Bitex and started reselling locally and online.
In 2019, I bought my first new bike since the Follis in 1981, a custom Titanium frame I designed and contracted with one of the Chinese Ti manufacturers that make custom order bikes as a test-run for assisting others in sourcing custom Ti bikes.
Over the years, I bought and rode quite a few more bicycles which I rode for a while and moved on... some steel, Aluminum, Titanium, Carbon... Short-term projects, restorations, fixies, 650B conversions, 26" MTB to gravel conversions, tandem, 80's carbon monocoque frame made by Aegis in Maine marketed under the Bik brand...
This hands-on practice is completed by a deep understanding in the field of composite materials gained while doing my M.Sc. at the University of Washington on carbon fiber composite (sponsored by Boeing as part of early work on the vision to build a complete carbon fiber composite commercial airplane which became a reality 30 years later with the Dreamliner) and during the 5 years I spent as Global Marketing Manager for epoxy resins for Ciba Geigy (the inventor of epoxy resins) in Switzerland in the late 1990's.
I love bike technology and think we live in a wonderful time where one can get incredible equipment at an attractive cost. Materials and technologies that were only available for NASA, Fighter Aircrafts, Formula One cars (and tinkering Materials Engineering students) some 30 years ago can now be bought by anyone with an "almost" reasonable budget.
…but the interest of the bike industry is different from the interest of the rider. The bike industry generates an inordinate amount of dubious “innovations” and new “standards” to make sure riders feel that last year’s stuff is passé and must be upgraded. The huge marketing and sponsorship costs to join the exclusive club of top brands have to be financed by the customer of a small and fragmented industry. To make things worse, the bike industry is still largely built on a 5 layer pyramid of Brand, Manufacturer, Importer, Distributor and Local Bike Shop, and everyone in the chain needs to make a living. So bikes have become luxury brands and status symbols. The rider pays inflated prices for equipment with well-known and flashy logos ridden by the pros (and often too many cut corners on cost like cheap BB bracket bearings that will last one season). It has become much like buying a Rolex or a designer evening dress where the price is a dominant component towards signaling perceived quality and performance.
Our role is to help you cut through the hype, strip the fluff that adds cost and no benefit and guide you to invest your hard-earned money into excellent technology at reasonable prices. No sponsorship cost, no branding, no flashy painting and logos, just good materials and technology.
We also cut through the mind-boggling choices and explain why we choose what we choose, in order to offer a distilled range highly focused on your goals and riding styles whether your focus is to go fast and/or far and whether you want ten bikes or just one to do it all.
We also do custom projects, and vintage restorations mostly for the fun of it and because we hate to see good old bikes gathering dust in garages and love to give them a new life…
bottom of page